Enhancing your lighting for better portraits could be as easy as 1-2-3. Light is the main component of a great photograph. Understanding light and its source is half the battle. A well-lit composition produces a crispy looking image. This helps the photographer to show important details of a person’s face. Freckles, lines, and wrinkles are few examples. However, some may use little amount of light to add some elements to the portrait.
Natural light is still the best lighting for better portraits and any other genre. Ambient light from the window produces good quality light that is needed. Additionally, ambient light is neither so soft nor too harsh. In some instances, natural light is not enough. Sometimes, it is not present at all. This is the time where you need to use artificial light.
Artificial light could also be the lighting for better portraits. This is why most studio portraits ended up as superb work of art (work of light I might say).
Use a “fill in” flash.
A flash or strobe is a light source that is very handy and can easily be used as lighting. It is used to brighten the subject. The camera has a built-in flash or the pop-up flash but I am discouraging you use it as it might not give you what you needed. It is advisable to use an external flash.
Using external flash in a studio is the cheapest way to do it. Most of the time, a single strobe light is enough for a beginning photography studio. Strobe light is best used to fill in when a stronger studio light. In a bright and broad daylight fill in flash is a must. The harsh light result with shadows that are undesired for a portrait. A strobe light eliminates this shadow by filling in the curves in the subjects face.
Play with the flash’s power.
Experimenting with the flash’s power will help you when you do actual photoshoots. Increasing and decreasing the power is a good feature that should be maximized. Some scenario needs softer lights and some needs harder or stronger light. After a snap, make sure to check your image and adjust your flash’s power if necessary.
Watch out for the “redeye”.
Redeye is a condition of a portrait where the eye/s of the subject turns red due to lighting problem. You could use the power button in a strobe light and decrease the power. You could also bounce your light to a reflector or white styro board. The best remedy or way to avoid redeye is to use a ring flash. A ring flash performs like an external flash. The only difference is that the shape of a ring flash is circular. The circular shape of the ring flash avoids the redeye.
Make a reflector your trusty companion.
Sometimes, studio light, strobe light, or even natural light cannot provide you the necessary amount of light you need for your subject. Then, you might consider using a reflector to bounce some light towards your subject. This serves as a secondary light to fill in some areas where it is needed. When your studio light is too harsh for the subject, just bounce the light through a reflector. In that case, the hard light will not directly hit your subjects face.
Choose the best depth of field.
Light source is not the only factor in enhancing your lighting for better portraits. Depth of field also plays a big role. Shallow depth of field, most of the time, produce brighter image. For portraits it is great to blur the background. For group portraits however, shallow depth of field is not a good thing.